DaimlerChrysler South Africa is bidding for the contract to build the new generation of Mercedes-Benz C-Class vehicles. This could lead to a billion-rand investment for the East London region.

DaimlerChrysler South Africa (DCSA) is bidding for the contract to manufacturer the new generation of Mercedes-Benz C-Class vehicles. This could lead to a billion-rand investment for the East London region.

reports that DCSA spokesman Deon Ebersohn said the South African company was bidding for the W204 contract against the Bremen and Sindelfingen plants in Germany. A decision will be made in October.

DCSA said production will probably be shared with a plant in Germany. "It will not necessarily be just right-hand drive vehicles. it depends on the details of the contract and the demand," said Ebersohn.

If successful, the East London area could attract investment of about R10 billion. "It would mean that as from 2007, when production of the new vehicle starts, the plant would introduce a third shift, to operate 24 hours a day," said Ebersohn.

"Currently we manufacture 42 000 vehicles per year and aim to increase to 50 000 from next year. It is estimated that in terms of the new contract we would have to manufacture 100 000 vehicles per year." This would mean that exports would increase from 31 000 to 75 000 a year.

To manufacturer the 100 000 vehicles a year, DCSA said it would probably invest a further R2-billion to upgrade the plant, increase staff and cater for the longer hours.

Ebersohn said the contract would benefit DCSA’s suppliers too and lead to the possible investment of R10-billion in the area.